Federal judge: Yeah, there's a good chance the EPA has been using secret e-mail accounts "in bad faith"

Through their efforts, the Competitive Enterprise Institute first shed some light on the rather mysterious life and times of one Richard Windsor, the extralegal nome de plume used by Obama’s former Environmental Protection Agency chief Lisa Jackson in conducting official EPA business over e-mail. Open-records laws require that all government business be conducted on official accounts so they can later be searched in the event of any Freedom of Information Act requests, and standard protocol directs that if any private e-mails are used for government business, they should be forwarded to official accounts. Jackson and other EPA employees repeatedly failed to do so, among other sketchy behaviors, while they were thinking up new and exciting job-killing regulations. They’ve since been less than forthright with producing requested documents — and now a federal judge has ruled that, well yeah, that does sound pretty shady. From the WFB:

U. S. District Judge for the District of Columbia Royce Lamberth ordered the EPA to submit to discovery in a case brought against it by the conservative group Landmark Legal Foundation and said the foundation can seek information to determine whether top EPA officials used personal email accounts to conduct official business.

“The possibility that unsearched personal email accounts may have been used for official business raises the possibility that leaders in the EPA may have purposefully attempted to skirt disclosure under the FOIA,” Lambert wrote. “The possibility that the agency purposefully excluded the top leaders of the EPA from the search, at least initially, suggests an unreasonable and bad faith reading of Landmark’s FOIA request and subsequent agreement to narrow its scope.”

Lambert also said the EPA’s statements concerning its search for records were incomplete and “contain numerous inconsistencies and reversals which undermine confidence in their truthfulness.”

Not cool, EPA. Not cool.

The revelation that Jackson asked to communicate with a Siemens official through her personal email account indicated the ex-EPA chief skirted federal sunshine laws, said a letter from House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s top Republican.

“We are concerned that your use of a non-official e-mail account was a deliberate attempt to circumvent federal transparency laws and Congressional oversight. Accordingly, we are writing to request your cooperation as the Committee investigates this matter,” the Thursday letter states.

Vitter and Issa requested all correspondence from Jackson’s personal email account spanning the duration of her EPA tenure that “refer or relate” to official business.